Category: Horror Films


Movie Review:  Prometheus  2012

I must start this review by explaining that I had two problems while contemplating writing this review (and remember that I never give away the plot or any other details, you must see the film on your own and draw your own conclusions):

1) I love the Alien franchise.  And when I say love, I mean make your spouse (and all other loved ones) sit through innumerable hours of watching everything Alien until they want to throttle you.  This love however, pretty much ended with Alien3 (even though it was somewhat watchable) and totally died with Alien4 – Resurrection (whose existence still pisses me off when I accidentally see its name while scrolling by the SyFy channel at night.)  Heck, Alien vs. Predator was 10 times better than Resurrection and it wasn’t even that great.  Maybe now you get how much I loathe Alien Resurrection.  Anywhoo…

2)  I was aware before seeing Prometheus that it was supposedly a “pseudo” prequel to the Alien franchise but didn’t know what the hell that really meant.  Now that I have seen the film, I unfortunately have a very clear idea of what the hell they were talking about.

So now, on to the review…

First, I went out of my way to see this film in 3D — it was my first 3D movie in theater (not counting “A Bug’s Life” at Disney World) and I have to say I was impressed.  The visuals were stunning and through a lot of the film I felt I was right there with the characters so I have to give big props for the fact that Mr. Scott shot this in 3D and did a great job of making the audience feel like they were actually a part of the film.

Also, the acting was great with only one exception — and I am not sure if this was due to the director or the actor, although I suspect the former.   All of the actors seemed very capable and in the case of Janek — his poor performance seemed forced.  Janek (Idris Elba) seemed to have no feelings whatsoever in this film until the very end.  One wondered if he was actually an android in the film.  I must also give honorable mention to two other characters that other critics ignored, Eilizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Fifield (Sean Harris).  If it were not for both their superb acting I honestly don’t think that I would have been so drawn in while watching.

Now on to the bad news:  the plot of this film was horrible and I directly blame Damon Lindeof.  The truth of the matter is that for some ungodly reason (perhaps studio pressure and — just my opinion because I have no proof — perhaps some form of nepotism) it was  decided that he was allowed to change the script originally written by Ridley Scott and Jon Spaihts –two people waaaay more talented.  If you really want to know how big of a hack Mr. Lindeof is (who clearly has no clue about what Alien fans really want), just take a look at that stupid hat he wore at WonderCon 2012.  Need I really say more?

Anyway as I always say, please don’t let my opinion of this film deter you from seeing it as it is certainly worth a few hours of your time.  You should ALWAYS make up your own mind about films, books, or any art form for that matter.  My job is simply to give you a heads up and perhaps shine a small light on the subject matter of which you are interested.

Let me know what you think of my reviews anytime.   In the meantime, please enjoy the imagination of others and always give them mad props for their effort.

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The Howling:  Reborn

I admit it, when it came to watching this movie I hesitated.  See, it has been a long time since I saw the original Howling, so I assumed that there would be some plot line I didn’t remember and/or it would fall prey to the dreaded horrible “it’s crap, but let’s make  it anyway for some quick dough” re-make curse.  I was wrong on both counts — it’s not a re-make and you don’t need to know anything about the first film to like this one.

The film immediately has you guessing — who is that woman on the phone?  Why is someone following her?  Who is this teenager telling us to kill him?  All questions that the movie lovingly takes it time to answer.

We follow teenager Will (Landon Liboiron aka “Josh” in Terra Nova) as he prepares to turn 18 and graduate from high school.  By all accounts, Will is a normal, geeky, good kid with a loving father and crush on the cute, but dangerous girl in school.  Pretty soon however, Will starts wondering (and you do too) if he might not be so normal after all.  Once the movie has you firmly thinking you have figured everything out, it takes several twists and turns that the most astute horror movie fan won’t see coming — a rare treat.

What I liked about this film is that it’s a fun, thinking fans film, although it’s obviously directed at a younger audience.  Yes, it’s got blood and guts and werewolves but it’s also got a neat little plot to enjoy as well —  leaving the door open for a new, interesting franchise on an old classic.

So, if you were thinking of skipping this one do yourself a favor and give it a watch — you won’t regret it.

RATINGS RANT:  I just don’t know what to do with IMDb these days.  The user rating for this film is a 4.1, contrasted with Wrong Turn 4’s 4.4.  No way these two films should even be close in ratings, much less WT4 being higher.  Ugh.

Wrong Turn 4, 2011

Yup.  It’s as bad as you thought it would be.  Although I will never write a review that begs you not to watch a movie or read a book, what I will try to do, is help you determine whether it is worth your dime and/or your time to do either one.  Personally, I watch and read a lot of frogs knowing that eventually the prince will be worth it — even if someone else told me not to.  That said, Wrong Turn 4 is definitely no prince.

If, like me, you were happily surprised by the first film, you have probably been hoping that eventually they would get around to figuring out what worked in the first film and gee, I don’t know, try to use the same formula or something.  Alas, that is not the case with Wrong Turn 4.  Instead, this movie felt like some studio executive let his 14 year old, barely literate, horny nephew write this screenplay (actually, it was Declan O’Brien, but close enough).  Yes, it’s really, really that bad.

So okay.  The film is a prequel, starting off in 1973 in a sanitorium (which according to the movie should not be confused with a sanitarium, but whatever) in West Virginia where our cannibal friends are incarcerated as teenagers.  Not much happens here except, wait for it… they escape and let all of the other criminally insane patients out of their cages.   Flash forward 30 years later to 2003 and some teenagers just itching to go skiing (which in teen-speak means drinking, drugging and having sex) but instead get lost (hence their Wrong Turn) and end up at the supposedly now abandoned sanitorium.

It is at this point that things start to go even further downhill than just bad acting and rampant clichés.  First, you have two semi-normal characters (Daniel and Kenia) who seem to sort of have their shit together (meaning, they weren’t high and actually noticed that something bad might be going on).  The rest of the cast was completely and totally expendable to the point where, once again, I found myself rooting for them to die.  Painfully.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted the cannibals to die too, as they totally should have once the group had them locked in a freaking cell.  But noooo, 50% of my semi-normal character team (Kenia) had to go and get all preachy about the evils of killing, so naturally the cannibals eventually escape and kill everyone.  For this reason alone, I spent the remainder of the film thinking up creative ways that Kenia should bite it, but unsurprisingly her death was way too quick and painless.  Unlike this utter horror of a movie.

RANKING NOTE:  IMDb users ranked this steaming pile of manure 4.4.  No offense, but anyone who thinks this film deserves more than a 1.5 is either high, a horny teenager themselves or more likely, both.

The Walking Dead, Season 2 Premier 9pm EST

Took long enough, but it’s finally here!  If you haven’t seen it yet and are planning to watch it later via DVR, TiVo or whatever, skip this update and check in afterwards.  I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so you have been warned.

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Our Season 2 The Walking Dead premier (1.5 hrs) opens with Rick atop a building speaking into a walkie-talkie.  For those of you new to the series (or just forgot, like I did) Rick regularly gives his status and various updates to the walkie-talkie in the hopes of reaching Morgan Jones.  Who is Morgan?  Morgan saved Rick’s life in Episode 1 of Season 1, when Rick woke up in the middle of zombie armageddon.  However, when Rick set out to find his wife and son, Morgan and his son Duane decided not to travel with Rick.  Rick tells Morgan to check his walkie-talkie everyday at dawn, so if he ever needs help or wants to join Rick, he and Duane can do so.

So, the gangs all there, minus of course, Jacqui, who decided to stay behind at the CDC when it exploded in the final episode of Season 1.  Since the major players are there, so are their issues from Season 1.  Rick still has no clue that his wife Lori was er, “intimate” with Shane while Rick was presumed dead.  We also have Andrea — who was going to stay and get blown up also at the CDC until Dale threatened to die with her — and she is none to happy with Dale for in effect, guilting her into living.  We also see Daryl, who in Season 1 was an awful lot like his racist, psycho big brother, save T-Dog’s life and risk his own life in doing so.  So in essence, we had a lot of interpersonal catching up to do here for a much-needed reminder for Season 1 fans and a solid introduction for newbies.

As you might have guessed, all of this didn’t happen while they were sitting around waiting to be zombie chow.  Nope, rather while on the road to Fort Benning, they first run afoul of a “herd” of zombies headed for, well, no one knows really.  As the herd is almost past them, little Sophia gets attacked by a zombie and bolts into the woods.  Most of the episode has the gang looking through the woods in search of her, interspersed with personal issues of course, and ends with Rick’s son Carl getting shot and no still sign of Sophie.  We don’t see how badly Carl gets shot or by whom, but call me an optimist — I am willing to bet little Carl survives.

All in all a great opener, even if a lot of it was for the purpose of playing catch up.  The tense atmosphere is just as awesome as last season, as is the acting and special effects.  As for the special effects, there is even one scene that is so visceral I almost got a little nauseous.  In other words — it was perfect.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 2010

Any fan of Guillermo del Toro can’t help but anxiously await for the release of his new films and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is no exception.  If del Toro somehow missed your notice (I don’t know, perhaps you live under a rock) he is well known for such visual masterpieces as Pan’s Labyrinth, Blade II and the two Hellboy films.  It also doesn’t hurt that he has been nominated for an Oscar and won a slew of other awards.  For this fan, however, it is del Toro’s stunning landscapes and intricate imagery that usually has me salivating in anticipation of his next flick.

So yes, the imagery in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is beautiful.  The old mansion in which most of the film takes place, along with its grounds, is something you are more likely to see in your imagination than in real life.  Also, as is his style, the use of contrasting color and interwoven collages always have your eyes noticing things in the background that otherwise would be just another prop.  To sum it up, although del Toro didn’t direct this movie — he wrote and produced it — he has once again done his job and done it well.

The plot centers around Alex (Guy Pearce, Memento), Kim, Alex’s girlfriend (Katie Holmes Cruise) and Alex’s 8 year old daughter, Sally (Bailee Madison).  As Alex and Kim are restoring an old mansion, little Sally comes to live with them in the mansion as the renovation is under way.  As kids are wont to do, Sally investigates the grounds and finds a basement not yet unearthed by Alex and Kim.  It is in this basement that bad things originate and soon Sally has a very real reason to fear for her life, but naturally dad and Kim aren’t so believing of Sally’s tales.  For all of its beauty and wonder by way of the scenery, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is little more than  a dark twist on the tooth fairy; think the tooth fairy meets Gremlins and there you have it.

First let me say that this is a good movie.  However,  (you knew it was coming, right?) I believe the biggest downfall of this film is how it was marketed.  I only saw references to it here and there before viewing, but nowhere did I see that it was a children’s horror movie.  It’s a really good children’s horror movie, but your average adult will find little to make them jump and certainly isn’t going to make them leave any lights on.  That being said, I can see this movie scaring the crap out of the 7-12 year-old range of kids and most likely, ruining the tooth fairy for them for quite a while.  If I had children I would love to sit and give them their first taste of a horror movie with this flick.  But since I don’t and was expecting an adult horror movie, the movie fell short for me.  Nonetheless, I still recommend giving a watch, and breaking my rule of not knowing anything about a movie before viewing.  In this case, if you want to enjoy this movie, it’s definitely a good idea to keep in mind what you are in for before hand and make sure you take the time to enjoy del Toro’s outstanding visuals.

SCIENTOLOGY ALERT:  We all know that Katie Holmes is the poor child who got herself married to Scientolo… er, Tom Cruise, and it does rear its ugly head in this movie.  However, it is only a very small (and unnecessary really) part of the film, and happens to be the one area I agree with the Cult, I mean “Church” of Scientology — doping our kids up with drugs is not the best decision in the world.  I’m not a cult member, so I do believe that in some cases it is necessary, but let’s be real — we do tend to over medicate our kids these days.  Anyway, like I said, the anti-drug message is in there, but it’s pretty small and if you don’t loath Scientology like I do, you probably wouldn’t even make the connection had I not done it here.  I only mention it because I like to make sure we are all aware when a real monster tries to insidiously enter the picture.

**Also, in case you weren’t aware this film is a re-make (of sorts) of the 1973 movie of the same name Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

Grave Encounters 2011

This film should not be confused with the reality television shows Ghost Adventures or Ghost Hunters.  Although, if you only caught the first 30 or so minutes, you would be hard pressed to know the difference since Grave Encounters follows the crew of a pretend TV show (of the same name)  as they investigate a defunct, yet supposedly haunted joint named Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital.

First off, we all know that movies that have X people trapped in X closed and creepy psychiatric hospital have been done to death (ha ha!).  But really, it is to the point where if you have seen one, yes, you have seen them all.  The only thing these movies usually have going for them is the fact that closed psychiatric hospitals are by their very nature creepy as hell, thus usually making it the star of the movie regardless of who the actors may be.  While this is no doubt true for Grave Encounters, it is also true that this particular film is actually pretty damn good.  Confusing and at times mind-bendingly stupid, but I still had fun watching it.

After setting up their cameras and whatnot for their evening locked in the hospital, bad things start to happen pretty quickly (yay!), but you do have to stick with it for a slow 30+ minutes beforehand.  The crew — lead investigator “Lance,” (Sean Rogerson), tech guy “Matt” (Juan Riedinger), camera man “T.C.” (Merwin Mondesir), just-to-have-a-girl-in-it “Sasha” (Ashleigh Gryzko) and fake psychic “Houston” (Mackenzie Gray) —  expecting another boring night, find themselves actually dealing with true paranormal activities.  Lance wants to continue investigating, finally getting something real on tape but the rest of the crew isn’t so keen on the idea.  However, the arguing becomes moot when they realize that they are in fact trapped inside the hospital with only God knows what.

This introduction really doesn’t do the film justice, but in order to do that I would have to give away a lot of what makes the film unique and more importantly, fun, which I refuse to do.  Grave Encounters will never be voted best horror film of anything, but it is a really nice twist on a very over done idea and surprisingly, I only found a few things to bitch about and they were minor in the overall scope of the film.

Normally, I would list here the things I didn’t like about the film, but I’m feeling generous today so instead here’s 5 things they did right:

  1. The black guy isn’t the first person to die.  I find the fact that this still happens to be insulting especially since far too many horror movies still only cast one token black person in the first place.  If the setting dictates it, fine.  But otherwise — seriously?  It’s 2011 people, not 1911.  Just sayin.
  2. The characters are actually smart (mostly).  Praise is deserved for whoever decided to give the characters a chance to use their brains and think through situations as opposed to making one stupid decision after another.
  3. It keeps you guessing.  You are never really shown or given a nice tidy reason why everything is happening.  This works because you are just as lost as they are in trying to figure out the situation.
  4. Poking a bit of fun at the current reality ghost-themed TV shows.  Lance will no doubt remind you of Zak Bagans from Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, and had to be intentional.  Mackenzie Gray as Houston, the fake psychic, is pretty funny too.
  5. It’s not afraid to go dark.  Although most of the movie is just a fun treat, it does go a bit dark in the end.  I did not see this coming and have to say I was very happy to see it.

So, don’t go into this expecting award winning material here, but do expect a few jumps, a smart film and a main character (the hospital) that as always deserves more credit than it gets.

Forest Haven Asylum

REAL ASYLUM INFORMATION:  In the film, the fictional Collingwood hospital is located in Maryland.  Whereas there is no such hospital in Maryland, there is at least one that the locals love to trespass on — little known Forest Haven Psychiatric Hospital.  If you really want to get in the mood for Grave Encounters, do a bit of research on Forest Haven first and you won’t be disappointed (these links should help).  If you are near Maryland and thinking about visiting, be aware:  Someone takes trespassing there very seriously — but who and why, I don’t know.  I only know that I tried to get on the grounds myself about 2 years ago and was turned away by some very shady characters (no uniforms) and this seems to be common amongst would-be visitors to the site.  Anyway, enjoy!

World of the Dead — The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011

When I sat down to watch this flick for some reason I was thinking about reviews and the people who write them.  The conclusion I had come to was that as a whole, us average movie-goers are much harder on movies than we should be.  This is not always our fault, as misleading advertising and pre-release hype (designed to rake in as much cash as possible before word gets out about bad films) inundates us constantly.  But still, a lot of the time writers, actors, and directors work pretty hard to give us their visions of whatever the subject matter, and I was of the mindset that we should try harder to respect that before we plaster our scathing reviews all over the internet.

So with that in mind, I give World of the Dead – The Zombie Diaries 2 mad props for really trying to deliver a thought-provoking take on the zombie genre.  Regardless of the Stupid Shaky Camera Syndrome (dubbed SSCS by moi) I put every effort to look past the minor flaws the film presented as they came at me.  Unfortunately, much like the lone human is eventually over-run by a horde of zeds simply because there are so many of them, the flaws in the movie eventually became just too many to ignore.

The film follows a group of soldiers in the UK as they try to survive a zombapocalypse first in a military outpost, but when that is overrun, their trek to potential safety at another outpost.  The entire movie is filmed with SSCS by cameraman/soldier “Jonesy” (Rob Oldfield), who would have been very helpful in all of the gun battles and zombie fights had he put down the damn camera once in while.  If he had, I am certain a few of his comrades may have lived to see a sequel.  Oh well.

The film is also presented in a sort of weird, spliced and choppy sort of way.  The live action is interrupted (repeatedly) with shorts of older footage of some bio-hazard suit wearing people performing what appears to be mass executions of seemingly innocent, but perhaps infected civilians.  This idea might be a good one with a film that was shot normally, but combined with the SSCS it ends up just making you slightly nauseous.  These two things do not work well together.

During their mad dash to safety, not only do our poor, reluctant soldiers have to deal with zombies (whose makeup was pretty good BTW) but they also have a run in (or two) with a pack of heathen bandits.  This bandit idea is by no means a new one to the zombie genre, and neither are some of the things they do to pass the time, so their heinous behavior didn’t surprise me.  However, for some reason — maybe the way the film was shot — some of the bandit scenes felt gratuitous and leached away from what could have been more impactful moments.   Suffice it to say that I felt way more sympathy for the flesh-eating, world ending zombies than I did the human bandits.

In the end, the only way to describe this film is action packed but boring at the same time.  There was constantly something happening, but it felt like nothing was happening at all.  It sounds crazy, and I hate to blame SSCS again, but that filming technique made me feel very outside of the action as opposed to a part of it.  It was kind of like watching a fish swim around in its bowl – you can see stuff going on in there, but you ain’t part of it and it gets boring pretty fast.  Alas, had this film been shot normally, it might have been pretty damn good.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  This movie is a sequel to the 2006 film The Zombie Diaries, which I have not yet seen and honestly, am not looking forward to viewing anytime soon.

The Caller 2011

In The Caller, our main character, Mary Kee (Rachelle Lafavre, also known as Victoria from Twilight) is just your average, but abused wife trying to get away from her psycho husband Steven (Ed Quinn, who also played “Nathan Stark” in SyFy’s Eureka).  In the midst of a divorce, she moves into a less than desirable apartment complex and finds herself not only trying to deal with her restraining order-ignoring ex-hubby stalking her but also some odd phone calls to her new place.  The caller, who is clearly unhinged from the jump-start, tells Mary that her boyfriend recently came back from the Vietnam War — thus indicating that the caller (Rose) is calling Mary from the past (1979).  Mary, unbelieving at first, soon finds herself at the mercy of crazy Rose, who has proven that she can and will change things in Mary’s current life by making changes to her past.  And really, anyone who has seen Star Trek or read Ray Bradbury knows this is entirely possible and can lead to some very nasty results.

Let’s get to the bad stuff first.  Unfortunately, The Caller is an in-your-face rip off of Sleeping with the Enemy — from the dorky new love interest, visit to the county fair and right down to the poofy hair.  True, in this one the ex-husband still knows his wife is alive, but other than that, there really isn’t much of a difference between the two in terms of the sub-plot.  However, since this isn’t the main thrust of the story, I had little difficulty overlooking this minor annoyance.  I was too busy trying to figure out what the hell was going on with the rest of the movie, and I guess that’s a good thing.

However, some other things bothered me about this flick as well.  First, as much as this movie did a great job portraying Mary acting pretty realistically to the supernatural things happening around her, there were several obvious things that no normal human being would do.  For instance, Rose asks Mary for her name and Mary gives it to her, first and last.  Now, keep in mind this happens after Mary already knows that Rose is a nutjob — a nutjob from the past or not — and that was a pretty stupid thing to do.  I don’t give anyone (much less wrong numbers from loonies) my whole name over the phone unless I have called them.  Mary also later gives Rose her new love interests full name (John, played by Stephen Moyer) and this was after Rose had already proven she could make changes to Mary’s life.  Duh and double-duh.  It was also exceptionally unrealistic that an 80-something year old woman would be able to chop her way into Mary’s apartment and damn near kill her.  Umkay.

I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy this film, but on the contrary, I actually really did.  It is a unique twist on some old concepts, the pace and acting were good and the overall feel of the film was perfect (a little dark and musty, just as a supernatural thriller should be).  If I have any real complaint, it’s just that the film didn’t seem like it knew where it wanted to go.  Was Mary crazy and imagining all of the things happening to her or was Rose real?

For the bulk of the movie, we are led to believe that Rose was indeed very real but then things happen which differ with that knowledge.  For instance, John talks Mary into moving out of her apartment and in with her mother to get away from Rose.  Somehow Rose knows about this conversation, which took place at John’s house (no phones were involved either).  Now, there was a shadowy figure seen a few times in Mary’s present (which turns out to be the 80-ish Rose) but the Rose in the past knows about it and does some things in the past as retaliation.  I never did figure out how in the heck that happened and I question whether the director did either.  It’s almost like they hoped no one would notice.

I can’t tie this movie up in a nice and neat bow simply because the film doesn’t let me.  I came away from it pretty sure that Rose was real but honestly, I’m not 100% that the whole thing wasn’t in Mary’s head ala Black Swan.  All in all though, I suppose this is why the film worked for me — unlike Black Swan, it kept me guessing not only up to but also past the end.

IMDb NOTE:  Looks like IMDb and I are speaking terms again, as they give the film a 6.2 rating and I agree.  I think this is fair as the movie was interesting but had enough bumps to lose points with viewers.  Don’t you just love happy endings?

Movie Review:  Attack The Block

Note to Readers:  Due to the relatively in-depth nature of this review, there are spoilers aplenty below.  If you wish to skip the spoilers and get to the up/down vote and why, just jump to the last paragraph!

Overview:  A group of London thugs (young teens), while robbing an innocent woman, witness a white, streaking mass crash into a vacant car.  Upon investigation, one of the thugs “Moses” (played by John Boyega) is intent on robbing the already demolished car when an alien pops out, scratches and attacks him.  Moses fights back and stabs the alien which then takes off running.  Moses decides to give chase and make the alien pay for the attack, which he does by killing the alien.  The group of thugs then take the alien to the home of the neighborhood drug dealer “Ron” (played by one of my favs Nick Frost) where they stash the aliens dead body in “Ron’s Weed Room.”

About this time, the thugs notice that the same white streak in the sky that accompanied the first alien is now again in the sky — only this time multiplied in number.  The new aliens are bigger than the first and take to hunting down the thugs and pretty much anyone else who gets in their way.  To get to the thugs, the aliens pretty much lay siege to a building called “The Block.”  Thus the title — Attack the Block.

My feelings on this film are two-fold and diametrically opposed.  First, as an alien invasion movie (besides some minor quibbles) I liked it.  But second, as a dreaded Film With A Message — I absolutely hated it.  As an alien invasion movie, it was fun, fast paced and somewhat original.  Okay, so the aliens looked like overgrown bears with no eyes and glowing teeth.  But, I can overlook quite a bit when the acting is good and the film feels like everyone involved actually gave a shit about their product.  I can also overlook or even embrace subtle societal messages and overt messages if I am expecting them.  However, I cannot, or more accurately — will not —  give a pass to films that are supposed to be comedic and funny but consistently throw hard-edged messages in my face.  This is especially true when I completely disagree with said message, like the one in Attack the Block.

No doubt, there are probably a lot of critical reviewers out there who liked this film for the very reason that I am a little pissed off about it.  I say “probably” because I have not read any other reviews as of this writing, but considering the films message I don’t have to be Miss Cleo to guess their reaction.  The message?  Oh, that the teenage thugs that are currently so prevalent in London are really just misunderstood, noble young men who are being left behind by society, and it’s up to society and the government to save them.  I mean really, the lead “misunderstood hero” thug (Moses) is saved in the end by hanging on to a British flag.  Talk about hitting us upside the head with a message.  Jeez.

Now look, all in all Attack the Block was a good film.  The acting was solid and the special effects (even the alien-bear-thing) were pretty good.  So, if you can ignore or don’t mind being taught a lesson with your alien invasion film, give it a watch.  However, understand that they really did miss the boat with the opportunity they had with this movie.  All of the ingredients were there for an outstanding and fun film — they simply chose not to use them.  If they had focused more (a lot more) on the comedic aspect rather than on smug (not to mention wrong) messaging, this movie really could have been something special.  Too bad their “message” took precedence.

UNNECESSARY ADD-ON:  When attempting to convince my husband to see this movie, I told him it had (to use his frame of reference) “the guy from Shaun of the Dead” in it.  He said “Oh, that guy.  The one you love.”  I had to explain that I was speaking of Nick Frost and not Simon Pegg and that I don’t “love” Simon Pegg.  But anyway, if you haven’t seen “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” you should, it’s really very good.

UPDATE THAT MIGHT MATTER 9/6/11:  After writing this post I read some other reviews and it turns out that first, I was right about the critical response to this film (they loved it) and second, the film was supposed to be writer/director Joe Cornish’s tribute to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13.  That may be true and it’s completely within his rights to make the film that he wanted.  However, as a viewer, I shouldn’t have to know that before seeing the film and either way, that knowledge doesn’t add anything to the viewing experience.  So, in the end it doesn’t really change anything anyway.

Review: Fright Night 2011

Like a thousand tiny, little daggers stabbing me in the heart.  Repeatedly.  Yup, that is what watching Fright Night (the 2011 re-make) felt like.

I will get into the pain currently etching its way from my eyes and ears to my aorta in a moment, but first things first.  If you are one of the many people who never had the pleasure of viewing the first Fright Night 1985, and have any interest in viewing the latest Fright Night film, please — for the love of all things horror — go watch the original first.  It will enrage you to view the newest inception of the film afterward, but at least you will get some miniscule amount of enjoyment from it by remembering the first one in the process.  It also might help to go watch some old Dr. Who episodes with David Tennant as the Doctor.

In order to fully appreciate why I detest this film so very, very much I suppose you should understand why the first one worked so well.  Yes, I admit to having a rather large portion of my soul dedicated to 80’s horror movies, but that’s not the only reason.  Another reason is that the original film had great acting:  Christopher Sarandon as Jerry Dandrige (the evil, but smoking hot vampire), Roddy McDowall (Roddy McDowall!!) as Peter Vincent (a homage to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price) the “Vampire Killer”, Amanda Bearse as Amy, Stephen Geoffreys as Evil Ed, and William Ragsdale as Charlie Brewster.  Now that’s what I call a freaking cast.

It also happened to have great characters, which are almost the same as the new ones but um, well… no not really.  In the original, Charlie is actually likeable (as opposed to a douchebag in the new one, at least for the first 40 minutes of the film) as are Evil Ed, Peter Vincent and Amy.  In the new one, none of the characters are very appealing at all.

The story in both films pretty much goes like this:  a vampire moves in next to Charlie, Charlie realizes this but at the same time the vampire realizes that Charlie knows about him and a cat and mouse game ensues.  Still with me?  Good.  In the original, the vampire (Sarandon) is particularly interested in Amy, because she looks almost exactly like his long-dead love.  Sarandon knows to play coy in this role and is a sophisticated vampire simmering with a sex appeal you suspect is hidden somewhere, but your imagination does most of the work.  In the new one, the vampire (Colin Farrell) is just a freaking pervert who runs around with his shirt hanging open the whole time.  In the original, Amy looked 16 and kept trying NOT to have sex with Charlie, in the new one Amy (Imogen Poots)  looks 26 (she’s really 22) playing 16 and tries TO have sex with Charlie.  Ugh.

Oh, the madness never ends.  In the original, Peter Vincent (McDowall) is a likeable, good-hearted, yet cowardly late-night horror flick host (and aging horror film actor)  who is being forcibly kicked off TV as a new, younger audience no longer has any interest in his kind.  You can’t help but feel bad for the guy, coward or not.  Contrast that with the new one, in which Peter (Tennant) is a misogynistic, drunken, David Blaine-ish Las Vegas illusionist.  Oh.  My.  God.   Anyway, I hope you get the picture by now because frankly, it was bad enough watching what they did to a great movie but seeing it written in black and white is adding salt to my already weeping, open movie wounds.
Amy Vampire, Fright Night 1985

The truth is that I really didn’t even want to see the re-make, because I knew in my heart that the first one would be almost impossible to top.  But, when I learned that David Tennant was playing Peter Vincent I thought maybe, just maybe someone knew what they were doing.  However, in my opinion only three good decisions were made — total — in remaking this film:  1) casting David Tennant (this film aside, I adore David Tennant) 2) casting Toni Collette as Jane Brewster (Charlie’s Mom) because she is always awesome and 3) having Chris Sarandon show up in a cameo, even if he did only live for about 35 seconds.  Okay, to be totally fair, they did try to cast Charlie as a teen who actually looks like a teen with Anton Yelchin, although he is also 22 in real life.

Seriously, this film was tremendously bad.  I didn’t even get into the absurd amount of misogyny it contained (another departure from the original).  Also, it appears that IMDb and I once again are completely at odds when it comes to ratings.  IMDb gives the remake 7, yes 7 stars.  To put this in context, they gave Insidious a 6.9 and the original Fright Night a 6.9.  On this development, I have to warn you — if you have an issue with curse words you may wish to skip the next few sentences.  You’ve been warned.  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? WHAT KIND OF CRACK ARE YOU PEOPLE SMOKING?  COLIN FARRELLS PECS ARE NOT WORTH 7 STARS YOU BRAIN DEAD SHEEPLE!!!!!  Let’s just say I strongly disagree with IMDb’s users on these ratings.

In closing, for what may be the first time ever (yes, ever) I find myself in agreement with a critic (well, mostly) instead of supposedly sane and normal people.  That’s how low this film has made me sink.  **spit**

SMALL SIDE NOTE:  This review was written prior to me reading the review I have linked above, and I was surprised to find them so similar.  I also have nothing against critics in general, I just usually feel that they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

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